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NorthWestern Energy and Compass Wind close on Spion Kop Wind project

Monday, Nov 19, 2012

BUTTE, Mont., Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- NorthWestern Corporation d/b/a NorthWestern Energy (NYSE: NWE) and Compass Wind, LLC have closed on the purchase of the 40-megawatt Spion Kop Wind Project near the central Montana community of Geyser.

"We're pleased to add Spion Kop Wind to our growing portfolio of owned electric generation resources in Montana," said Bob Rowe, president and CEO. "This project enables us to meet our 2015 renewable portfolio standards obligation while maintaining a balanced resources mix that contributes to long-term rate stability. Our thanks to Compass Wind for bringing forward an environmentally sound project that adds real economic benefit to the local area."

"As a company, we feel fortunate to have worked with NorthWestern Energy along with so many quality partners at the local level. We look forward to a long presence in Judith Basin County and Montana," said Compass president Chris McCall.

Approximately $8 million was spent on Montana services during construction including transportation, lodging, food, labor, materials, permitting and siting. In addition to those economic benefits, the project will generate an additional $566,000 in property taxes and fees in the local area during its first year of commercial operation. NorthWestern Energy, Compass Wind, GE and Ryan Companies also donated $10,000 to purchase new iPads for the Geyser School before the start of the current school year.

The Montana Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved placement of the $86.1 million project into the company's regulated rate base in mid-February, and the project was placed into commercial operation earlier this month. Both the energy and associated renewable energy credits will be used to meet the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) obligations in Montana law. Under Montana's RPS, 15 percent of NorthWestern Energy's total energy portfolio must be produced from renewable generation by 2015.

Under the terms of the filing with the MPSC, which included a 10% authorized return on equity, a 5% estimated cost of debt and a capital structure of 52% debt and 48% equity, this project represents an approximate levelized price of $54 per megawatt hour (MWh) for a 25-year period and is significantly less than the current Qualifying Facility rate for a project with similar attributes of $65.35/MWh.

Spion Kop Wind will now be subject to an MPSC prudency review of the project's construction costs, and we expect the review to be completed during 2013. We expect to recover the Spion Kop Wind project in customer rates beginning in December 2012.

About NorthWestern Energy

NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 668,300 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at www.northwesternenergy.com.

About Compass Wind

Compass, a wind project developer in the western US, was formed in 2007 to build smaller utility-scale wind projects. Currently, Compass has a number of active projects in the Mountain States region with an established pipeline of approximately 1,000 Megawatts. More information is available on the company's website at www.compasswind.com.

SOURCE NorthWestern Corporation

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